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November 11, 2008

Google Pack, a Reward for Google's Partners?

When Google launched Google Pack in January 2006, Larry Page said that software companies don't have to pay Google to be included in the bundle. In addition to including most of its software, Google added an anti-virus and an anti-spyware software from Symantec, Firefox with Google Toolbar (Google and Mozilla have a search deal), Adobe Reader (Google and Adobe have a distribution deal), Skype (eBay and Google have an ad deal), RealPlayer (Google and RealNetworks have distribution deals), StarOffice (Sun and Google had a distribution agreement).

"Every program included in the Google Pack is free, has earned a reputation for excellence, and was evaluated to ensure it meets Google's Software Principles. Google respects users' rights to control their own computers and does not include software that is spyware, generates pop-ups, or that is difficult to uninstall," mentioned Google in a press release.

After removing Trillian and Ad-Aware, last week Google removed StarOffice from Google Pack and one of the possible explanations is that Sun signed an agreement with Microsoft to bundle MSN Toolbar with Java downloads. "With the vast array of Java software-based Web applications that are downloaded every month, this deal will expose Live Search to millions more Internet users and drive increased volume for our search advertisers," said Yusuf Mehdi from Microsoft.

A Google representative told eWeek: "We are constantly evaluating which products to include in Google Pack to make it more valuable to users. At this time the agreement to distribute StarOffice through Google Pack has expired, and we have decided with Sun not to renew the agreement."

If Google wants to offer a valuable software package for its users, maybe it's time to stop including software just because it's developed by partners. There are plenty of better alternatives to Norton Anti-Virus, RealPlayer, StarOffice and some of them are free or even open-source.


  1. Excellent point Alex...

    Its just partner thing.. In face, Avast, AVG, Avira are far more excellent for normal desktop home users.

  2. They don't need to have StarOffice included, when it's Google Docs online and running (even with docx, xlsx support).

  3. @Milan
    I don't think that Google Docs support docx

  4. @MoustafaZA

    Do you research... They most certainly do.

  5. No, Google Docs doesn't support Office Open XML formats. OpenOffice 3 and the soon-to-be-released StarOffice 9 add support for these formats.

  6. This very blog has reported that Google Docs supports OOXML (see

    I agree with Milan. Why include StarOffice on Google Pack if Google Docs is a centerpiece of your corporate strategy to go at Microsoft and reshape software in the 21st century?

  7. @almondwine: Perhaps you should do some reading yourself...

    "Google Docs doesn't yet support importing Open XML files, but you can use online services like Zamzar, Zoho Writer or software like OpenOffice 3.0, Microsoft Office 2007 or Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack to convert your files."

    As for Google Pack, perhaps it's Sun that decided not to renew its side of the deal. Maybe they felt Microsoft would not have appreciated a separate agreement between Sun and Google.

  8. > Avast, AVG, Avira are far more excellent

    Says who? In all the reviews I've read, AVG and Avast usually come LAST and are extremely badly reviewed!

    The free version of AVG is particularly bad and has an appaulingly bad virus detection rate. You get what you pay for, and some of those products are free. Don't bother - spend some money and get something which works. I recommend NOD32 or Kapersky if you want something which actually detects virues and doesn't make your computer crawl like Norton does.

  9. I was waiting for Google Pack to release Staroffice 9 as I prefer Staroffice over Openoffice, Google DOC, and MS office. Google DoC requires that you be online and is a webased app. Where I feel more comfortable with a off line application. Especially when not connected to the internet. Now I eather have to use openoffice with not all the staroffice add-ons or wait to see what Sun decides to do.

  10. I think the point made by Alex is valid: Google bundles software for partnership value, not for the intrinsic quality of the software. Nick G also makes an excellent point about AV - NAV is far from the best and even though the free versions are better, they aren't the best either.

    What surprises me is the suggestion that Staroffice is somehow worth a look at. Why would anyone consider it if you can get OO free?

  11. There is simply no comparison between the power of StarOffice and any of the free alternatives. I rejoiced when Google offered it as part of the GooglePack, and was very, very disappointed today when I went to download it to a PC I'm rebuilding, only to find it gone. People who depend on productivity software (word processing, database and spreadsheet) to get their work done simply don't have time for the "now you see it, now you don't" games that the giants play with the public. I am a great fan of Google, but this has caused me to re-evaluate my enthusiasm.

  12. I agree with Google insofar as ALMOST all of these programs have a reputation for excellence...with the sole exception of RealPlayer. I am actually pretty surprised that Google has chosen this firm to team up with. That program has a history of being not only resource heavy and cumbersome, but of being one of the few video programs that has tried to charge for its service while offering proprietary codecs that had fairly limited popularity and application. I have not given them a look in a while, but in the early days of the internet they were one of the major companies to avoid. Maybe its time to give them a second chance...